Increase Your Leadership and Influence Through Toastmasters

Last week, I shared with you nine proven ways to speak with confidence. Speaking with confidence helps you assert your influence in leading a group of volunteers.

52 - Toastmasters

One of the best ways to develop your public speaking and leadership skills is through Toastmasters International. When you join a local club, you begin working toward two certifications: Competent Communicator and Competent Leader. I am certified in both.

As you would imagine, Competent Communicator is based upon public speaking. You are required to develop and deliver ten speeches to achieve this certification. Each speech focuses on a different element of public speaking, from the fundamentals of writing a compelling speech to inspiring your audience while on stage.

You may become certified as a Competent Leader by completing a variety of leadership roles within club meetings. For example, you get credit for serving as Toastmaster (emcee of the meeting), timer, “ah” counter, etc. You also get credit for organizing speech contests, inviting guests, and evaluating peers’ speeches.

The best way to get started is to visit a local Toastmasters club meeting and see things in action. Here’s a link to find a club near you.

I recently wrote the following article for my local Toastmasters club’s newsletter. It’s my testimonial to the personal growth I’ve experienced in Toastmasters. I am confident that Toastmasters will help you become a better booster leader!

I joined Toastmasters in the spring of 2011, not only to develop professionally, but also with a very specific goal in mind. I had just completed my first year of a three-year tenure as president of the Blackman High School Band Boosters. In this role, I routinely spoke before groups ranging in size from 25 to well over 400 people.

When speaking, I was not satisfied to simply communicate facts to the parent volunteers – they could read facts from a newsletter or website. I wanted to inspire them to get involved and to make a positive impact on the next generation. Toastmasters seemed the perfect forum to help me achieve my goal!

Coming in, I held a narrow view of Toastmasters – primarily a means to improve my public speaking skills. What I didn’t anticipate, though, was how I would grow as a leader and communicator, in general.

In pursuit of Competent Leader certification, I have learned, hands-on, how to plan and execute a major event, emcee a formal meeting, and deliver personal feedback in a constructive and respectful manner. Through the development of speeches, I have learned how to communicate succinctly and with impact.

Mid-way through my journey toward Competent Communicator certification, I had an epiphany – to read aloud everything that I write. Doing so helps to reveal an awkward combination and flow of words that may hinder communication. There’s no better way to edit and critique your work!

When my daughter graduated high school in May 2013, I began a new season in life and initiated a new project. I have written a book, The Booster Leader: 35 Leadership Essentials for a Thriving Booster Organization.

When I became president of the band boosters, I was disappointed to find there was no source of guidance for booster leaders. With this book, I hope to help many parent volunteers by filling this unmet need. The Booster Leader is currently available on Amazon in paperback and electronic Kindle formats.

Toastmasters has helped me to achieve things I never thought possible. Toastmasters has given me the confidence to write a book, and prepared me to market and promote it. I am thankful for the opportunities that Toastmasters has provided me to realize outstanding personal growth!

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Toastmasters International, except as a local club member. I have not received any compensation for representing Toastmasters International.

Question: What professional associations help you grow personally and professionally? You can leave a comment by clicking here.